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Vendors stage pork holiday vs price cap

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
Vendors stage pork holiday vs price cap
Meat stalls are empty at the Trabajo Market in Sampaloc, Manila as vendors take part in a pork holiday yesterday, the first day of a price ceiling imposition for pork and chicken in Metro Manila.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Pork was scarce in market stalls yesterday and chicken seemed to have also disappeared as most wet market vendors refused to sell on the first day of the 60-day price cap imposed by government.

The cap limits pork shoulder or kasim to P270 per kilo, belly or liempo to P300 and chicken to P160 a kilo in Metro Manila markets.

Market monitors showed that both San Andres and Quinta markets in Manila had no kasim and liempo available, while chicken in Quinta was priced at P190 a kilo.

The Marikina City market also failed to follow the ceiling as its pork kasim averaged P320 and liempo P380, with no chicken sellers.

The same goes for the Las Piñas City market where meat products were sold P20 to P30 higher than the price cap.

Only Commonwealth and Pasay City markets were able to follow the cap for kasim and liempo, but chicken was not available in Commonwealth, while it was priced higher in Pasay at P185 a kilo.

Malacañang yesterday appealed to traders to continue selling pork, and bared plans to source pork supplies from the Visayas, Mindanao and parts of Luzon and bring these to Metro Manila.

“We support the advocacy on alternative pork sources, but we urge traders to continue selling pork. The government will buy them (pork) and will bring them to the markets so we won’t lack supply,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) acting director general Karl Chua likewise emphasized the need to increase pork supply and lower tariff.

“Our priority is to ensure adequate supply and given the local supply deficit, increasing the MAV (minimum access volume) and reducing the tariff can help augment supply,” he said.

Labor group Associated Labor Unions (ALU) yesterday urged hog and chicken retailers to cease from holding the pork holiday for the sake of poor workers.

“Many ordinary workers are struggling to find affordable and nutritious pork and chicken because of the pork holiday. May the retailers and vendors cooperate, even if temporary because of the pandemic crisis,” ALU spokesman Alan Tanjusay said in a statement.

Dispose of smuggled meat

Meanwhile, Bureau of Customs (BOC) deputy commissioner Edward James Dy Buco directed all ports nationwide to immediately dispose of smuggled meat and poultry products to prevent the further spread of animal diseases in the country.

“In order to prevent the spread of disease carried by illegally imported meat and poultry products, and to prevent the possible entry into the market of said products, all ports are ordered to immediately take action by disposing through burning all seized illegally imported meat and poultry products,” Dy Buco said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officer-in-charge Eric Distor to investigate and conduct case buildup against manipulators controlling the price and supply of pork.

Distor was also instructed to submit a progress report on their investigation and case buildup within 30 days.

Transferring hog inventory

In a statement, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said its food unit, San Miguel Foods, is looking to transfer its nationwide hog inventory and facilities to local raisers.

SMC president and COO Ramon Ang said such a move will allow them to supply the requirements of the different regions and help strengthen biosecurity practices among smallholder farmers.

For his part, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto called on trade, agriculture, transportation and police officials to conduct a field audit to address “traffic, tong, toll” obstacles that delay deliveries and increase the cost of food products.

“Our (food transporters) need to go through flying and fixed checkpoints along the countryside-to-city food routes. And sadly, many of these have become mulcting stations by people who treat these food trucks as a buffet on wheels,” Recto said.

“It is wrong to make money from the hunger and suffering of the people. The government needs to make sure that the people have something to eat. Everyone must unite to meet this urgent need,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan likewise warned. – Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero, Mary Grace Padin, Czeriza Valencia, Mayen Jaymalin, Evelyn Macairan

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